“Sometimes we encounter things that profoundly change our outlook on life and when it happens, it doesn’t matter that former joys have lost their allure or that our foundations have been shaken. All we know is that the walls we’ve built around ourselves have crumbled into dust. All we know is that our unsatisfied yearnings no longer throb inside us and something restorative is taking place deep inside our souls… ~Will Kautz
It is nothing short of a modern miracle and a testament to the strength of the human body that I have undergone and survived two major surgeries in less than six months. I give eternal thanks to the medical teams that saved my life and returned to me the gift of function without debilitating pain. That, and my undeniable source of grit and gumption.
It is fair to say that I had a history of back problems, what with a fracture at 17 years of age, the demands of competitive sports, a twin pregnancy, and several difficult surgeries…all had left it in need of some serious TLC and repair at 45.
I had done all the right things—chiropractic care, deep tissue massages, physical therapy, acupuncture, rest, ice, heat, a prayer that the pain would go away…and sometimes it would. Most of the time, I just dealt with it, brushed it off as part of my reality and hoped for a better, more pain-free tomorrow and always the ability to live a very active life.
No guts, no glory
The whole “no guts, no glory” mentality has carried me through life and in my physical prowess I have found the stronger, never-give-up, courageous parts of myself.
Practicing hot yoga in our home in San Miguel, I felt a searing pain down the left side of my body, never imagining that I had just herniated two of my discs. Falling to the floor and calling out for my husband, I knew that there was no amount of strong will nor physical therapy that was going to get me out of this one.
Unable to move nor stand unassisted, my husband or a wheelchair had to transport me from point A to point B leading up to my surgery. I hoped and prayed with all my might that the doctors would successfully repair my spine so that I would not be sentenced for the rest of my earthly years to a chair. I refused to accept that reality.
Flat out on a hospital bed in central Mexico like a turtle on its back, I have never felt so helpless and nearly defeated. The streams of tears flowed without restraint as I lay with eyes closed, not believing the surreal reality I found myself in. There is no dignity in semi-paralysis, peeing in a pan or having your body washed by two complete strangers.
The night before my surgery, I laid in the cold emptiness of my hospital room–alone, in great pain, and without my family.
I had many hours to process through some “stuff” and experience some truly powerful revelations about myself and my life…silver lining, lemonade out of lemons.
My God and I got to spend some good, one-on-one, quality time together…He and I have always been together since I was a little girl, like the Sclemeel, Schlemazel, Hasenfeffer Incorporated song of the good ol’ Laverne and Shirley Sitcom that I so loved as a kid. Connected at the hip, He and I, always present in my little girl heart.
Making Our Dreams Come True:
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated.
We’re gonna do it!
Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.
Nothin’s gonna turn us back now,
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true,
Doin’ it our way.
There is nothing we won’t try,
Never heard the word impossible.
This time there’s no stopping us.
We’re gonna do it.
On your mark, get set, and go now,
Got a dream and we just know now,
We’re gonna make our dream come true.
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way.
Make all our dreams come true,
And do it our way, yes our way,
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.
I knew what lay ahead of me and that I had to put my big girl panties on and confront it with determination and courage.
During a six-hour surgery, Dr. Salvador Galvan completely removed one disk—my L3 L4—and replaced it with a 12 mm silicone prosthetic spacer. My L4-L5 was also so damaged that it was just a matter of time before it failed, so Dr. Galvan fortified it with a 10 mm spacer. Apparently the trauma to my spine was so severe that I lost over three times the amount of blood that is normally lost during one of these surgeries. No doubt that is part of my recovery challenge.
My surgery was on Tuesday morning and come Wednesday night I took my first assisted steps. By Thursday I was able to take my first unassisted ones and be discharged home from where I lay now in the comfort of my bed writing this.
I have a road ahead of me, taking literally one step at a time. Walking back and forth to the bathroom, taking a shower and being able to stand long enough to brush my hair are huge accomplishments. Poco a poco, I will get there, back to a newer, improved, and bionic version of my former self.
My kickboxing days are likely a thing of the past, but I will learn a new “new”.
Several of my nurses questioned why I didn’t return to the States for this surgery where the medicine is “more modern”.
“Because Mexico is my home”, I told them each, “this is where I live. This is where my heart is, where my family is, where my life is.”
Mi Querido Mexico, I love you.
I want to express my extreme and eternal gratitude to Dra. Rosario and her staff, to Dr. Salvador Galvan, to Dr. Paolo my pain specialist and to all of the nurses and operating room staff members at Hospital Santiago de Querétero. You will forever be my earth angels.
Without a doubt, this experience and journey has refined and improved who I am as a human being, mother, wife and friend to both self and others.
The gift of walking and of health is not to be taken for granted.
May we all pause to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. They are there.
Blessings, Peace & Health to you all….
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